| Ishan Ibrahim |
BRUNEI Darussalam’s Minister of Health said the responsibility of establishing and ensuring an effective regulatory framework for health – be it in the regulation of the multi-discipline of health professionals, practice and facilities, regulation of products as in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and medical services – must be shouldered collectively, and stressed that products that are plainly harmful to health in particular tobacco products must be stopped.
In his opening address at the 7th Bilateral Ministers of Health Meeting between Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia at The Empire Hotel & Country Club on Tuesday, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Adanan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mohammad Yusof said the Ministry of Health is currently reviewing its regulatory framework that includes updating and introducing new legislations. The minister also recognised that a strong law will not be enough, as it needs to be supported by efficient, effective and sustainable enforc-ement in achieving the objectives of protecting public health.
The minister made a proposal based on the experiences between the two countries to establish a new area of cooperation that focuses on health enforcement and urged senior officials and the technical group to identify the appropriate action plan.
The minister, on another note, thanked Malaysia for their assistance to Brunei Darussalam especially in capacity-building.
Malaysia has provided several consultants and experts who have conducted training in various areas of health such as mental health for the ageing, clinical coding, promotion of breastfeeding practices and effective communication in healthcare, and Brunei Darussalam has also continued to send doctors, nurses, allied health professionals to undergo postgraduate, specialist and diploma courses in Malaysia.
Malaysia currently provides 48 professionals in multi-disciplinary areas in healthcare services.
This has made a contribution to the strengthening and improving the quality of the health professionals and healthcare services in Brunei Darussalam, the minister added.
Hopefully, the minister said, the joint work plans under the bilateral cooperation and through established contacts will ensure Brunei Darussalam will have increased opportunities for more placements of postgraduate trainings in Malaysia’s universities and health institutions.
The minister acknowledged the significant progress in health cooperation between the two countries and declared the commitment to further strengthen the long, existing relations for the mutual benefit of the health and wellbeing of the peoples of both countries.
Brunei Darussalam, he added, is also looking forward to working together with Malaysia’s Ministry of Health in placing health agendas to the forefront in support of the Asean Community 2015 agendas as Brunei will host the 13th Asean Health Ministers Meeting (AHMM), 7th Asean Plus Three Health Ministers Meeting (7th APTHMM) and 6th Asean-China Health Ministers Meeting (6th ACHMM) in 2016.
Earlier, the minister cited the continuing rise of dengue and tuberculosis despite regional and collective efforts in the prevention and control of these diseases.
He said the country continues to confront threats, Ebola virus in particular, and in ensuring the effective preparedness and response, Brunei remains very vigilant on existing communicable diseases that are getting more prevalent, especially vector borne diseases.
On dengue, the minister said the country has done much in terms of vector surveillance and control, outbreak response, case management and research.
Despite this, the challenges are many and Brunei is “very concerned” with the impact of the disease on the community, he added.
He added that this falls within the scope of cooperation where officials from both countries can work closely together in applying effective and innovative approaches in preventing and controlling the disease.
The minister acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges is reducing the premature mortality and the burden from non-communicable diseases. As the country continues to implement the various prevention and control strategies, ensuring the sustainability of them is paramount so the country is able to measure the impact and achieve the set targets.
He warned that before the burden of non-communicable diseases becomes overwhelming to the country’s healthcare system with exacerbating expenses and jeopardises the sustainability of the socio-economic development, both countries must invest in necessary resources with concerted efforts.
In this context, the minister also hoped that the relevant senior officials and the technical working group will be more focused in addressing the risk factors of non-communicable diseases that include joint activities that promote community-based health promotion programmes, people-centred care and cost-effective intervention and management of diseases.
In response, the Minister of Health of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, also acknowledged the health challenges are faced not only regionally but globally.
He expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Ministry of Health of Brunei Darussalam on the issues of Cross Border Patient Transfer, in particular between Brunei and Sarawak.
He also felt confident that the sharing of experiences between the two countries will help in enhancing the health services of both countries.